Posts tagged #love story

intertwined

i watch him as he speaks - his hands moving awkwardly as he tries to find the words to say. his eyes shine and my heart's pulse quickens at the realization they shine for me.  i know he's probably nervous. i look for the overt signs of anxiousness but see none. his breath comes easy and his speech is smooth. i listen to the story from his side - the funny parts and the frustrating moments crash into my memory from a different perspective and i can't help but smile. i remember. i remember the cracked upholstery of his car, the embarrassment of spilled soda staining lobby couches, his hands gripping the steering wheel and turning white as i explained what the last boy did to me. i remember it all. and hearing my story come from someone else's mouth is absolutely surreal but beautiful.

i realize then, my story has become his story. we are forever intertwined through His gift of love and hope and redemption.

he glances at me and i catch the clue.  my turn. i pick up where he left off and continue to share - this time from my own memories. we continue like this for an hour and a half - like a symphony complete with moments for rest and crescendos. every time he speaks, my heart grows. every time he catches my eye, i can't help but smile. every time i share, i fight the strength of emotion.

we finish and climb down the stairs, making our way to our seats. he places his arm around me and pulls me close.

"i love you." he whispers in my ear - his breath caressing my cheek. i wipe the tears of gratitude and glance his way, memories still playing against the screen shot of my mind.

i grab his hand and give it a squeeze, our fingers laced together like the formation of our story. he smiles at me and i whisper, "i love you too."

Posted on March 10, 2010 and filed under fluttering pulses.

my valentine

There wasn't anything out of the ordinary about the day. Outside of the freezing fog falling around our car, we tapped into normalcy and made our way to the church for worship practice. "when was the last time you were out here, love?" I turned my head towards Russ' question and began to think. The town is small, one where if you blink passing through, you'll miss it. A smile formed on my lips as I remembered.

"9 years ago this week."

9 years ago this week, our story began. And as we pulled into the parking lot of the church that offered a catalyst in the future of our love story, I couldn't help but laugh. My God is so into details. I let myself reminisce about that evening - totally unaware of this boy who would make my knees wobble and my heart shake every time he'd touch me. I didn't know yet what seeing him worship would do to me. I didn't know yet what it meant to leave someone in the morning feeling as though you were tearing away from your own self.  I didn't know yet the heartbreak we'd experience and the coming alive that would soon follow.

9 years ago, God began to unfold a story I never would have believed. And as we pulled into the church and memories came crashing down and Russ quickly grabbed my hand and landed a small kiss on my knuckle, I knew I couldn't wait to experience the ups and downs of our next chapter.

Posted on February 15, 2010 and filed under fluttering pulses.

love story pt. 5

Read part four here Russ and I dated for two weeks before he bought my engagement ring.

Yeah. You read that right. Two weeks. He decided to go through with it one weekend when he surprised me in Oklahoma. I had a feeling something was going on - HD had a glint in her eye & every time I saw one of my hall girls they giggled & looked away. I was downstairs in the lobby watching TV with everyone when he walked in the door.

My heart stopped. Literally. I remember the drop & kick of my heartbeat raging against my ribs. I never thought I would be one of those girls who ran to her man and jumped in his arms.

I was that night.

We hung out with everyone for a little while, but it was already nearing the closing of the dorms, so I ventured out into the cold with him in order to make it to the guy's dorm before midnight. I started making my way towards the chapel & he pulled my hand towards him - when I looked at him, my eyes were knit with confusion. He smiled and just led me towards his car.

"I have something to show you. I brought you a surprise."

A surprise? I could deal with a surprise. I snuggled deeper into his jacket and followed the moonlit path to the parking lot. Once we got to the car, he pulled out a book - The Moviegoer - and before I could even mutter a "thank you" he grabbed something else out of his bag. At first glance, I couldn't tell what it was - until he pulled out two champagne glasses and gave me this incredibly endearing half smile & coupled with a slight shrug.

"I found these glasses at a garage sale a couple years ago. At the time, I just thought they looked cool - but I knew someday I would need them for a special occasion." He looked at me out of the corner of his eye while trying to open the sparkling grape juice & said, "I figured tonight, gazing at the stars with the perfect girl, I would have the perfect opportunity."

So we toasted to our relationship - there under the midnight stars of Shawnee, Oklahoma - our breath forming in puffs from the cold, he looked me in the eyes and said, "I'm falling in love with you. No. It's already done. I'm not falling anymore - I'm already there. I love you."

I giggled. I did a little hop step with my feet out of nervousness and frigid air.

"I love you too."

And then for the second time that night, I jumped into his arms.

The rest of the weekend went by in a blur - sleepless nights a given in order to suck as much quality time as possible from his visit. On Sunday afternoon we decided to go on a walk and ended up in the campus gazebo. There was a lot of talk of the future - what we wanted, what we hoped for, how God was moving...the dreams He was placing in our hearts and how we were managing the balance of school & work & future & friends...there never was any lull in conversation with Russ. And when there was silence, it was the comfortable silence of being in the presence of one of your best friends. It felt natural.

and then I did something I had never done for anyone ever before.

I stood up and motioned for him to stand up with me. "Will you dance with me?"

He smiled and placed his arms around my waist. "What are we going to do for music?"

I didn't even hesitate. I'm not sure what made me think of it, or what caused me to have enough courage to do it, but I started singing When I fall in love....it will be forever....or I'll never fall in love.... with the backdrop of the sunset it made for a magical moment. Dancing at dusk, sealing our fate with a kiss once I was done with my Nat King Cole serenade.

For a split second, I wondered if me singing to him meant as much to him as it did to me  - and then I noticed his eyes misting over and a resolve take over his features. He looked into my eyes and cupped my face with his hands...

"I'm going to marry you."

My heart crashed against itself again, begging for some mercy from the weekend's events. But I didn't care. As I stood there in Russ' arms, I thought back to what I had been through in the last year. Heartbreak. Loss. Depression. Fear. Healing. Restoration. Hope. Redemption.

And now...true love. Something I had never felt before - like falling into a warm embrace and feeling completely comforted and wanted and needed and cared for...it was absolutely beautiful. And for the first time, I wasn't worried about the how or the why or the what. For the first time, I was excited about my journey ahead.

Russ left that weekend and immediately started looking for a ring. I knew he was asking about what I wanted, and I knew we talked a bit about getting engaged and wedding dates, but I had no idea just how serious he was about everything.

On Easter weekend, I went to visit my family and stopped to see Russ. We went to the mall and he led me into some jewelry stores, and I tried on rings with my hands shaking and nervous laughter and giddy smiles but Russ had something already up his sleeve.

He had already bought the ring.

Posted on October 14, 2009 and filed under fluttering pulses.

love story pt. 4

Read part 3 here The fall semester of my junior year brought a lot of change - the severing of my relationship with ex-boyfriend, & the tender beginnings of my relationship with Russ.

I'm not quite sure how everything started - I just remember one day not talking with him online, and before I knew it, our nightly chats had become expected & something I looked forward to all day. I was still incredibly cautious. I remember my mom telling me she didn't want me to become jaded - someone who almost expected to not find love again. I wasn't there...yet. But I had given up on any sort of relationship for awhile.

At the beginning, our conversations were centered on getting to know each other all over again. He introduced me to Superchic[k] - I introduced him to Chevelle. He told me Only Hope by Switchfoot reminded him of me, & that he preferred Miles over Coltrain. I told him I hadn't touched a cola bong in two years.

The most important transformation during this time was my heart. Every time I spoke with Russ, something inside of me woke up - suddenly I realized everything I had let go while dating ex-boyfriend. If I could pin-point a moment where God whispered in my heart: hey! wake up. pay attention. look around you. something needs to change & I am going to use you - this is it. All of the dreams I once had about being used & being uncomfortable & letting go of the American Dream came rushing back with a ferocity I couldn't ignore. Something was happening. Every time I prayed - Russ came to mind. Every time I sought the Lord about where he wanted me - a flutter in my heart of nervous expectation would startle me to action. I argued with God a lot during that time period. Not because I didn't have feelings for Russ - because, well...I did. Strong feelings. Different feelings than I had ever experienced before. But, the whole "getting your heart dragged through mud & then broken... " thing kind of hinders a lot of emotional trust. And it wasn't just about Russ, either. It was during these few months that God re-awakened my desire for worship, reminded me of my passion for writing, and began planting seeds in my heart that would sprout into full blown dreams within a few years.

But, despite my feelings for Russ - despite my willingness to take risks in other areas - to say I was hesitant with my heart is a huge understatement.

For example. Christmas came & I went home. Russ & I continued our conversations at night & he mentioned me stopping by to see him on the way back. I agreed. At least, I told him I would try. We were planning on meeting for lunch on my way through to Shawnee. When the day came for me to head back for J-term classes, I got in my car & drove straight through to Shawnee. I sped through Belton, my heart racing, not wanting to take a chance or risk letting my feelings show. In a drive that should have taken about eight hours - including stops - I made record time in six hours. No stops. No opportunity to second guess my decision & turn around. Later that night I made an excuse about needing to get back for girls who were going to be at the dorm, but the truth was, I had the Kerr dorm to myself that night. I had never been so scared to jump in to a relationship before. I knew that's where this was headed. I knew the chemistry was there. I felt it - even though I hadn't even spoken to him on the phone. I knew. And I was scared spitless.

The whole thing started escalating in January. He was still on break - I was in classes for the month of January. It was during this month we dreamed together, laughed together, he counseled me & encouraged me to continue to let go of ex-boyfriend-that not every guy is a tool. Not every guy is looking for selfish ways to pursue a girl. One day, I would meet someone who would treat my heart with the utmost respect & humility.

I knew I had already found him.

I did. By the end of January, I was totally smitten - but still pulled in different directions. I felt pure peace when considering allowing Russ to pursue me - I knew he was just waiting for cues - but at the same time, I was still absolutely terrified of opening up my heart. One evening after talking to Russ in HD's room (we often had conversations with him while the other person was watching - you know - typical girl reconnaissance that really isn't so inconspicuous) I had a sudden urge to go back to my room & pray.

It was that night I purged myself of the past. Praying, I knew without a doubt God was telling me to move forward. To forget about what had happened before & to trust that He knew what was best for me. He brought back to mind what my best friend had said the night boyfriend had broken up with me - and it was this night He told me I had just found the person who had been running with me the whole time.

With tears of excitement & emotions I couldn't yet express, I grabbed a huge trashcan out of the hallway & started throwing everything away that dealt in any way to ex-boyfriend. Stuffed animals, notes, cards, jewelry, movie stubs, notes/cards from other people who we both were close to, clothes I had stolen from him over the course of two years & clothes I had bought simply because he liked them on me..everything.

I filled the entire trashcan.

When I was done - I felt a weight lift. Literally. A burden I didn't even know I had was gone & in it's place was an incredible peace & calm. I knew I wasn't totally finished, though. I called my two best friends on campus - HD & Daree - & asked them to come up to my room because I had something for them. While I waited, I grabbed all of the pictures which included ex-boyfriend/ex-boyfriend & me. When they showed up at my door, they looked at the trashcan, and then at me, questioning. I told them it was simple - I had held on for too long. Letting go was long overdue, & although I had thrown everything I could away, I thought they would want to help with something else. I gave them the pictures, asking them to get rid of them in whatever fashion they deemed necessary. The glint in their eyes was priceless - and as they turned around to complete their sudden project, I knew I had done something right.

I walked back to my desk & started writing. Within minutes, a message popped up on my screen:

"I hear you did a bit of spring cleaning tonight."

I smiled. He knew. I found out later HD had returned to her room before taking care of the pictures to let Russ know what I was doing - and how significant it was - but at the time, I just assumed she had been the birdie who whispered in his ear.

"Yeah." I responded. "It's time. I've held on too long & God really just showed me He has so much better waiting for me. I've learned this past month you can't ever take a step forward without letting go of the baggage keeping you from moving."

It was quiet for awhile, and I wondered what he was doing - if he was talking with HD (she really was quite the wing-woman) or if he was just reflecting on what I was saying. When he finally responded, my heart gave wings & started to fly.

"So...can I call you?"

I started giggling like a little school girl - alone - staring at my laptop - I blushed ten shades of red & tried to quiet the butterflies going crazy in my chest. Instantly, a memory wheel started playing scenes I had forgotten.

The cola bong. The hugs. The not so obvious avoidance. The heartbreak. The step of faith.

Everything I had been through - the roller coaster of life I had chosen for myself over the past few months - the mistakes I made & the regrets I had - these meant nothing in comparison to what God had offered me.

I told him yes, he could call me; I had about three minutes before I heard the phone ring. My heart jumped & I took a deep breath. It sounds absolutely ridiculous - but I still remember his voice at that moment. It was absolutely beautiful - and incredibly shaky.

"Hello?"

"Hey! Wow. I haven't heard your voice in years...it's nice."

I smiled. It was a new beginning....

(to be continued)

Posted on August 19, 2009 and filed under fluttering pulses, story.

love story pt. 3

Read pt. 2 here Everyone experiences heartbreak.

Mine came swift with a kick in the gut during the spring of '02.

I was a sophomore at Oklahoma Baptist University & my relationship with boyfriend had skyrocketed - just like we had hoped. During the fall semester, he had even planned on asking my dad for permission to marry me.

His car broke down, preventing him from driving to Shawnee to hang out with the family, which proceeded to freak him out enough to question whether or not we were supposed to be together. We did the typical "break" - no talking for a week. For me, it was horrible. I had completely built my life around this person & instantaneously, my life was void without the hour long chats at night. I had no computer in my room, and no true friends yet (I spent all my time with boyfriend & my best friend who went to OU) so I became very, very studious.

During one of my family's visits to see me, my mom & dad surprised me with my very own laptop. Huzzah! Now I had the internets & could keep in contact with my UMHB friends who I was missing - a lot. One night, as I was talking with my old roommate via IM, she mentioned all of the latest gossip. Who was with whom, who had left, who had gone crazy, you know...the usual.

I asked her for any & every screen name she had of people I knew.

I got to talk with Russ that evening.

We still laugh at this conversation. It was the typical "what's happened since the last time I spoke with you" type of conversation - except Russ had broken up with the girl he was dating & had started dating someone else.

A very important someone else.

It was during this conversation that we shared with absolute certainty with the other person that we were with our future mates. Russ told me he "just knew wedding bells were in the future" concerning his girlfriend & him, and I returned the sentiment about boyfriend & me.

Right.

May I remind you? Boyfriend & I weren't really talking at this point. Our relationship was...shaky. Arguments had become the regular. His frustration & harsh words should have been a red flag, but I was blinded by my hopes.

It was good talking with Russ, though - he still had the uncanny ability to make me laugh.

That was the last time we spoke for a year and a half.

As for boyfriend and me, things changed - for a little while.  Looking back, the small hiccup in the fall was a precursor to an incredibly rocky relationship. It didn't take long for everything to come crashing down.

Easter weekend I celebrated with boyfriend at his house. By this point, boyfriend had taken a position at a local used car lot as a used car salesman (jokes welcomed & encouraged). His schedule was completely unpredictable. I had purposefully driven up to see him that weekend with my best friend (she was from boyfriend's home town & went to high school with him) because I knew he was off. I was concerned. To say he was cold towards me is an understatement.

The past few weeks had taken their toll on my confidence. Verbal abuse, while not extreme, was becoming a more & more prominent feature of our relationship. Boyfriend had replaced his loving accolades for more "appropriate" words describing me: ditzy, annoying, weak, too much, high maintenance...in an attempt to be "brutally honest," boyfriend had become brutal to my fragile heart.

He broke up with me Easter sunday.

I was "just too much for him to think about" & he "couldn't take the responsibility" of being in a relationship. For me, this was completely unfounded. Yes, his words had been harsh - but like I said earlier - I was SO blind...SO intent on his love  & affection, his negativity became normal & expected.

I was...broken.

That night, I fought between heartache & denial. My best friend & I went on one of our standard neighborhood walks (which was rough, because boyfriend lived down the street) It was this night she told me something that would later come back to haunt me.

"You know, Elora, relationships are like a marathon. You run and run and run and suddenly comes running up beside you for a little while. You gain strength from their presence. You become close...running mates. Your steps align with theirs. Then they leave. Or you leave. You have to take a different path or they have to slow down...the reasons are numerous. But, one day you're going to look to your side & find someone who has been running with you the whole way. That's who you want. That's your true running partner."

At the time, I wanted to punch her. But it turned out to be one of the wisest things she ever said to me.

I came back to OBU & immediately went to my dorm room, leaving a message on my board outside for the girls not to bother me for a little while. (I was an RA) I stayed in my room for a solid 48 hours, just grieving & soaking in the heart ache.

It took six months to get over him.

The summer after sophomore year was brilliant. I plugged in to a local college group & kept myself busy. I made friends. I made guy friends. I flirted. I let myself heal.

When I went back to Oklahoma, I have to admit, there was more than a little trepidation. So much had happened in a year - I wasn't sure if I was ready to go back. My best friend & I had slowly grown apart - simply because of my lack of ability to hear the truth. She grew up with ex-boyfriend. She was too close to the source of my pain. So I let her go.

Despite my mistakes with friendships God had blessed me with, he made sure I wouldn't be alone. Since boyfriend had broken up with me, my relationships with girls in my dorm had blossomed. The support system I had was unbelievable. Like rock, they were there. Always. Willing to fight for me & willing to laugh & cry with me. Beautiful relationships I am still thankful for.

I fell in love with the campus that fall. I had one year under my belt, I was an upperclassman, I knew the professors & they knew me. It was going to be a good year, I could feel it in my bones.

And then he called.

It was out of the blue. And at first? I was so angry. I probably should have stuck with that emotion because the next feeling came over me in one fell swoop: I wasn't over ex-boyfriend. Hearing his voice on my cell phone caused an earthquake internally. I wasn't ready for this. I...didn't think I could handle this whole "let's talk & be friends" thing.

So I ignored him.

For two whole weeks, I ignored phone calls & e-mails. Then I couldn't do it anymore. I called him back & we talked until 4 AM. He missed me. He had been on other dates but could only think of me. I was on this pedal stool & he didn't want me to come down. He wanted to try again. But slowly.

He said everything I had prayed for - everything I was expecting to happen because remember? He was the one. He WOULD come back.

That semester was a whirlwind of a relationship. More intense than the last time we were together, yet with less strings.

Read: totally not healthy.

My friends knew this. Heather Diane (HD from here on out), my life line & recently acquired sister of a best friend, spoke truth many times into my heart those few months. I just wasn't ready to listen.

The bottom fell out from under me after Thanksgiving break. I had asked if he wanted to come home with me for the break, but he wasn't able to because of work. I left thinking everything was okay. Over break I heard the news.

He was seeing someone else.

Someone I knew.

Someone I considered a friend.

I had no idea the hurt I felt the year before was only a portion of what I would feel with this news. I suddenly felt so very, very foolish. I called him the night I got back, and within minutes I was weeping...he was yelling...yelling into the phone about my immaturity & how I acted like a middle school girl & I was too emotional & I should have known there was nothing between us.

"You told me you loved me."

"Elora...I do."

I hung up on him.

it was ugly.

To be perfectly honest, the hurt was so deep that night that I still feel the pinch. I still feel the shortness of breath & the bottom break way. I crawled into my bed & cried. I was so tired of this. So tired of him. So tired of my heart being walked on & bruised & beat up. I knew this wasn't how it was supposed to be. So I prayed.

I prayed so hard that night. I prayed for peace. I prayed for my future husband. I prayed for healing. I prayed for deliverance. I prayed that these lingering feelings for ex-boyfriend would completely disappear.

I wanted free.

I woke up the next morning swollen eyed but refreshed. I was at peace. I knew without a doubt, God had me in the palm of his hand, and while my heart was still incredibly tender....the healing process had begun.

It was that week that without any fanfare, Russ & I started talking again.

Posted on August 12, 2009 and filed under fluttering pulses, story.